June 13, 2014
As we prepare to enjoy all that is great about Wimbledon 2014, an elite group of young people are going through the final stages of their training.
The Ball Boys and Girls have been working hard since February to make sure matches happen with a seemingly effortless fluency.
Ready to have a sweaty towel thrown at you time and again by an irritable prima donna? Ready to pick up a racquet hurled to the floor by its angry owner? To run your heart out in 40c heat on Centre Court? The ball boys and girls are.
They say nothing, they try to be invisible, but we notice them for long enough to know they are fantastic. They are the world’s greatest support staff and they have set the standard for tournaments all over the world.
Other Grand Slam events have been trying to catch up with Wimbledon for decades in this regard. They are getting closer, to their credit.
Wimbledon’s Ball Boys and Girls are still the best in the world. They probably always will be.
If you’re lucky, you’ll join the 250-strong army of BBGs ready to wait on the stars and amaze us all with their agility and discipline.
To become one of the 700 applicants from local schools you have to impress your headmaster first. Even then you have much less than half a chance of making it through.
Of the new applicants, 160 of 540 will come through the selection process. These youngsters are just fifteen years old on average. Yet they show more maturity than all the tennis stars put together.
Some have done it before and come back for more. Of those “veterans,” 90 out of 160 applicants will be successful.
The best of the best BBGs form four teams of six to work Centre Court and Court One. One hour on, one our off. It’s tough. It’s gruelling. There is pressure. Near-perfection is expected.
Six teams of six work the other show courts, the rest patrol the outside courts. Every once in a while a player will bring a BBG into the limelight, offer a racquet, have a joke. The youngster will play along with an embarrassed smile…then get straight back to the job as quickly as possible.
So as we enjoy our tennis heroes, let’s direct some of our appreciation towards the Ball Boys and Girls. Through all the hot-headed drama, they are the true kings and queens of cool.